Charles Cowling, chair of the Qualification Task and Finish Group, interviews Marjorie Ngwenya, president of the IFoA, about Councils response to the Qualification Framework consultation
We recently returned to our members with our response to the Qualification Framework consultation, which closed in February. The consultation asked for your feedback on the initial elements of the Education Strategy that we have been developing since 2015.
The consultation was centred on the idea that we wanted our profession and the qualifications that we provide to be 'fit for the future'. What does this actually mean?
Well, the changes we are implementing to the qualification framework and the wider changes to our curriculum (Curriculum 2019) are all about looking to the future of the profession and how we see our members evolving and growing within the increasingly fast-moving industries in which our members work. We want to attract a new generation of generalist actuaries who use their skills to move the profession into wider fields outside of our traditional areas of work. We also want to create a truly global profession, where our qualifications enable our members to move wherever they want to in the world, in line with their career aspirations.
What were the key outcomes of the consultation?
We asked for the views of our membership and they certainly responded, with hundreds of students, Associates and Fellows providing detailed feedback on our initial proposals.
The high volume and quality of member feedback gave us ample food for thought. It allowed us an opportunity to review our strategy with the thoughts and needs of our membership and wider stakeholders in mind, and as a result we made three decisions.
- We are recognising more clearly that Associates are already fully qualified actuaries and, therefore, we are developing a repositioning of the qualification in line with the International Actuarial Association's (IAA) global standard
- Any new students embarking on their studies under Curriculum 2019 will be required to reach Associateship before proceeding to Fellowship if that is their ultimate qualification destination. There is an additional element to this decision; because of the feedback we received during the consultation, students will be able to sit all, or any, of their advanced examinations pre-Associateship if they choose to do so
- We will continue to consider the designation Chartered Actuary (CAct) as a rebranding of our Associateship (fully qualified actuary) instead of moving to a membership vote immediately. We want to engage with you further on your views around this change and then come to a more fully developed decision.
We received a lot of feedback during the consultation, how did Council decide on its course of action?
The feedback we have received has been crucial to developing our response. The number of members responding was exceptionally high in comparison with other consultations, with just over 1,000 of our members taking part in the online survey and a substantial number more through the face-to-face meetings we held during this consultation, as well as our initial discussions with stakeholders prior to the formal consultation opening.
As I mentioned in the official response, we had a lot of support from employers, industry bodies, other national actuarial associations, as well as from Students and Associates.
However, some respondents had concerns around some elements of the proposals, in particular the introduction of the designation Chartered Actuary (CAct). We, as Council, need to be mindful, of course, of the needs and wants of the entirety of our current and future membership. Not just those who are qualified or working towards qualification but also those who are looking to enter the profession.
Many prospective members are looking for roles that will give them opportunity and flexibility in the industries they wish to work within. And, of course, we need to be mindful of the views of the businesses who hire our professionals.
This is why we have decided to postpone the decision to move forward with the Chartered Actuary designation and instead spend more time with our members and industry stakeholders to better understand their views on how this may affect their profession - now and in the future.
Why did Council decide to reposition the Associateship as the initial qualification for a fully qualified actuary?
Firstly, we wanted to make sure that everyone understood that, as things stand today, Associates are already qualified actuaries. However, we want to reposition that qualification in line with the International Actuarial Associations (IAA) syllabus and the IAA definition of what it means to be a qualified actuary, as per the changes to our curriculum, which is being launched at the end of this year.
We believe that this change will benefit our members by:
- Making the profession more attractive to new entrants
- Enabling actuaries to expand into wider fields, in terms of areas of expertise, geography and non-traditional areas of business
- Supporting flexibility for those employers who are increasingly looking for more generalist actuarial expertise
- Making members more competitive with other professionals in wider fields
- Ensuring we are relevant globally.
This is just for our new members joining post-Curriculum 2019, isn't it? What does this mean for our current membership?
Yes that's right. Those who are currently studying will not be affected by this change, although, if they would like to gain the Associate qualification before working to Fellowship they will be able to do so. The same is true of our Fellows who will not be directly affected by the changes. However, if we decide to move to a member vote to introduce the Chartered Actuary (CAct) designation, and that vote is successful, existing Fellows will have the opportunity to adopt the Chartered Actuary designation, alongside their Fellowship.
The IFoA is going through considerable change in terms of how the qualifications are structured, the content of examinations and assessments, and how members are regulated. As with all change, it can seem overwhelming and of course there is the question of: 'How does this affect me?'. We believe these are changes that seek to secure the value of our profession well into the future, help us to be as competitive as possible within the global marketplace and place the role of actuaries in industry in the forefront of business. By rising to the challenges of our rapidly changing environment, we can ensure that the profession survives, thrives and is truly fit for the future.
What are the next steps now that the response has been issued?
We will spend some more time collating feedback on the introduction of the Chartered Actuary (CAct) designation and what it would mean for the membership and wider industry. We believe it would be of huge benefit, so want to ensure members understand why we think this and hear their response. When we have sufficient feedback from a wide-enough cross-section of the membership and industry, we will consider whether to move to a member vote to obtain the necessary bye-law changes.
But in other areas, the work of Council and the IFoA doesn't stop - in fact, it is now fast forward.
A new Lifelong Learning Board is being developed that will facilitate the repositioning of the Associate qualification to the IAA syllabus. These changes will be implemented alongside Curriculum 2019. We will be issuing more details about Curriculum 2019 in the next few weeks, so please keep up to date with changes at: www.actuaries.org.uk/studying/curriculum-2019
Keep in touch with us
If you have any comments or concerns please contact us via our dedicated email address: [email protected] and continue to watch for updates of our FAQs.
Charles Cowling is chief actuary at JLT benefit solutions